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  HOME | Colombia (Click here for more)

Guerrillas Burn 3 Vehicles in Southern Colombia

BOGOTA Ė Suspected FARC guerrillas burned three passenger vehicles on a highway linking the southern Colombian cities of Villavicencio and San Jose del Guaviare, a military commander said.

Six suspected Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrillas torched the vehicles Saturday after forcing the occupants to get out of them, 22nd Jungle Brigade commander Gen. Nestor Robinson Vallejo said.

The attack occurred on a highway that links Meta and Guaviare provinces, the general said.

The rebels planted several explosive charges on the side of the road after setting the vehicles on fire, the military commander said.

Army troops and National Police officers were sent to secure the area while bomb specialists deactivated the explosives.

No engagements between the security forces and the guerrillas took place, the general said.

The FARC, Colombiaís oldest and largest leftist guerrilla group, was founded in 1964, has an estimated 8,000 fighters and operates across a large swath of this Andean nation.

The Colombian government has made fighting the FARC a top priority and has obtained billions in U.S. aid for counterinsurgency operations.

The FARC has suffered a series of setbacks in recent years at the hands of the Colombian security forces.

Alfonso Cano, the FARCís top leader, was killed on Nov. 4 in a military and police operation that the government hailed as the biggest blow to the FARC in its nearly 50-year history.

Cano, a 63-year-old intellectual who had entered the ranks of the FARC 30 years ago, was killed in in a remote area of the southwestern province of Cauca a few hours after fleeing a bombardment.

The FARC also suffered a series of blows in 2008, with the biggest coming in July of that year, when the Colombian army rescued a group of high-profile rebel-held captives: former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, U.S. military contractors Thomas Howes, Keith Stansell and Marc Gonsalves, and 11 other Colombian police officers and soldiers.

The FARC is on both the U.S. and EU lists of terrorist groups. Drug trafficking, extortion and kidnapping-for-ransom are the FARCís main means of financing its operations.
 

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